CRT to direct Nextel's NASCAR sponsorship

RESTON, VA: Nextel Communications has hired Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT) as the PR agency for the NASCAR Nextel Cup series of stock-car races.

RESTON, VA: Nextel Communications has hired Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT) as the PR agency for the NASCAR Nextel Cup series of stock-car races.

CRT will handle PR, media events, and cause-related marketing initiatives for Nextel's sponsorship of NASCAR races. Nextel became the sponsor last June, replacing Winston, and this is the first full year of Nextel's 10-year sponsorship.

Nextel is working with Interpublic's Octagon, a sports marketing agency, for race-day activities at various NASCAR tracks.

Nextel selected CRT from three finalists after it had been impressed with the work the agency had done for Nextel in the past, said Michael Mooney, director of corporate communications for the Nextel Cup series. "They had a good understanding of our culture," he said.

The Richmond, VA-based agency plans to put six people on the account on a full-time basis, with four in Richmond and two in its Charlotte, NC, office.

While neither Nextel nor CRT would discuss planned spending for the project, Thompson said, "It will become one of our largest accounts."

The agency won't be doing race-day events for fans at various NASCAR events. Rather, it will handle PR for activities that relate to Nextel's sponsorship.

For example, it helped with the introduction of NASCAR-branded phones that Nextel introduced at the Daytona 500 earlier this month.

PR efforts going forward will involve finding ways to get involved at the track and also engage the community," Mooney explained.

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